DOT Foresees Strong Tourism Recovery, Expects to Surpass Annual Targets

The Department of Tourism (DOT) anticipates a robust recovery for Philippine tourism, expressing optimism in meeting and surpassing industry targets for the year. Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco shared these insights during the Post-SONA Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) Roadshow, where she highlighted the industry’s performance under the Marcos administration.

As of August 10, the country’s foreign tourism receipts have already reached Php 286 billion for the period from January to July 2023. This figure represents a remarkable recovery of over 66%, surpassing the average ASEAN growth of 54%, as reported by the second UNWTO World Tourism Barometer on the Recovery by Region in Q1 2023. The momentum from 2022’s tourism receipts of Php 1.87 trillion is propelling the industry towards a phenomenal performance in the first half of 2023.

Furthermore, the Philippines has welcomed 3,376,514 foreign visitor arrivals as of August 10, exceeding 70% of the country’s 4.8 million baseline industry target for the entire year. Tourism Secretary Frasco attributed this success to the administration’s pro-tourism policies, emphasizing President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s commitment to making tourism a priority.

The DOT recorded over 5.35 million individuals employed in tourism-related industries in 2022, representing 93% of the industry’s employment figures during the pre-pandemic period of 2019. Economic managers revealed that the rebound of tourism growth is the second driver of economic development in the Philippines for the period from January to June 2023.

At the Post-SONA PEB held in Cebu, Secretary Frasco outlined strategies to sustain tourism momentum, focusing on the development of Central Visayas. The region has already seen combined international and domestic visitor arrivals reach 2.2 million as of June 30. The DOT is developing various tourism portfolios, including English as a Second Language (ESL), MICE, golf, and health and wellness.

Connectivity in Central Visayas has seen a remarkable increase, with 195 international flights to and from the Mactan Cebu International Airport as of August 10, a growth rate of 315% from the same period last year. Cebu ranks as the most preferred destination among overnight travelers based on the DOT’s latest nationwide survey for 2023.

The DOT plans to construct more Tourist Rest Areas (TRAs) in addition to the ones already being built in Dauis, Bohol, and the Municipalities of Carcar, Carmen, and Moalboal. The department is also keen on developing the region as a cruise tourism hub, with four cruise ships expected to make port calls in Central Visayas this year.

In line with sustainable tourism development, the DOT has projects in the pipeline for key and emerging destinations in Bohol, Siquijor, and Siargao Islands. Secretary Frasco expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to bounce back under the leadership of President Marcos, Jr. and in partnership with stakeholders.

Cebu, Central Visayas, and the rest of the Philippines are expected to exceed expectations, according to Secretary Frasco. She highlighted the need to support diving in Central Visayas and announced the DOT’s upcoming Tourism Dive Dialogue, aiming to consolidate efforts to fully expand dive tourism in the region.

The Philippines, as the host of the 36th joint meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia, looks forward to reintroducing itself to the world. Cebu will host the event next year, following the country’s election as Vice President of the 25th General Assembly of the UNWTO and Chair of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific.

The Post-SONA PEB Cebu session, titled “Reinvigorate. Accelerate. Transform.,” included panelists Cabinet Secretaries Alfredo Pascual (DTI), Bienvenido Laguesma (DOLE), Undersecretary Marlo Iringan (DILG), Assistant Secretary Genevieve Velicaria-Guevarra (DA), and Mr. Charles Kenneth Co, President of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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